New Delhi

India does not object to Xmas permit for Italy marines

Court decision postponed as judge seeks 'guarantees'

India does not object to Xmas permit for Italy marines

New Delhi, December 18 - The Indian government said on Tuesday it would not object in the event that a local court decided to allow two Italian marines on trial for murder to return home for Christmas. Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are on bail in India after allegedly shooting and killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of the southern state of Kerala during an anti-piracy mission in February. They have asked to be allowed to spend two weeks with their families in Italy over Christmas and a Kerala court was due to rule on the request on Tuesday. However the hearing was postponed by a day as the court sought guarantees from the Italian authorities that the soldiers would return to India at the end of the two-week period. Latorre and Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the two countries over who should have jurisdiction in the case. Proceedings began in Kerala but Italy subsequently petitioned that it should have jurisdiction over the case because the incident took place on an Italian ship, and in any case that the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission. India's Supreme Court has dithered over a verdict and last week the country said it would be at least another three months before a ruling is handed down.

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